I admit it. When Frankie was first diagnosed with diabetes I couldn’t shut up about it.
Part of it was the fact that, until he got regulated, it was the only thing on my mind. When I wasn’t at the vet getting glucose curves, I was on line browsing canine diabetes sites that predicted imminent blindness and worse (you know, those angel dog avatars).
Then there was the bid for sympathy. I was aware that my life was going to change and I wanted everyone to know what a wonderful, selfless person I was.
I quickly discovered that sharing is overrated. Here are just a few of the reactions that made me rev down my motor mouth.
Sorry you have to kill your dog
The woman who runs my favorite local farmer’s market, a good acquaintance (or semi-friend), said, “Oh I’m so sorry, We just had to put our dog down, too.”
Put our dog down, too? Actually, I hadn’t been planning to kill Frankie. The only substance I anticipated being injected into his body was insulin. She said this in front of Frankie, yet. I wanted to bend down and cover his little ears.
I haven’t been able to go back to the farmer’s market, even though I miss those organic tomatoes.
You think your dog is sick...
The guy who was putting in the irrigation system, a dog lover who’s always nice to Frankie, said “Oh yeah, another client has a little dog that got dental disease. The teeth were so rotted that the bone was destroyed and you could see his brain.”
Thanks for that image, Tom. Now I’m going to go brush Frankie’s teeth.
No wonder your dog looks depressed
This comment was from a man with a three-legged dog named Abby that I see along the trail where Frankie and I walk. Now Abby is a happy, frisky pup, an inspiring symbol of adversity conquered, and Frankie’s a shy guy. But Abby’s owner never noticed Frankie’s desperate need for doggie Zoloft until I happened to mention his diabetes.
Maybe you can give him back
This was said by a mutual friend of the woman who initially rescued and fostered Frankie; I’d adopted him from her three years earlier. Yeah, while I’m at it, I’ll see if I can get a refund of the $200 shelter/neutering/veterinary fee so I can buy myself a nice pair of shoes.
Ok, cough ’em up. What are some of your worst “I told people my dog was sick and they said…” stories?
10 thoughts on “Why Not to Tell Absolutely Everyone Your Dog Is Sick”
OMG! People are so incredibly insensitive. Not to one up you or anything 😉 and I don’t know if you’ve lost anyone really close to you but you cannot believe the insane things people said to me when my father died last year. They just leave you openmouthed and staring because you’re like, you did NOT just say/ask that!
Is Frankie’s diabetes fairly manageable? I’ve known several diabetic dogs/cats who all seemed perfectly happy and healthy otherwise <- that and/or oh gosh I’m so sorry you’re having to go through that and poor Frankie! are really the only acceptable comments I can come up with! Just like the only thing to say when someone loses a human family member is, I am so sorry for your loss.
Period. End of story 🙂
Thanks so much for your post. Frankie’s diabetes is well managed. I’m still looking for the perfect diet and trying to reduce his need for insulin, but yes, he’s happy and the only problems with his eyesight stem from age (he’s about 10), not unregulated diabetes.
And I really am sorry for the loss of your father last year.
What an absolute idiot! Look, I will send you some homegrown tomatoes, there is no need to put up with that insensitivity. Would she have said that about a person?! (Wait, let’s not ask, we may not like the answer.)
Hey, I’ll take you up on those tomatoes! It’s true, I keep wanting to sneak in and buy some produce but I know I’ll run into the organizer, and I can’t even look at her. BTW, I did ask why she put her dog down and she said tumors. I said malignant? and she said no, but they kept coming back… An unsightly dog — how awful.
The kindly-minded reader may want to know: What do you say to someone whose dog has been newly diagnosed with a major illness? Answer: Pretty much what you would say to a human (and his/her family) in the same situation. And the don’ts are the same, too.
1) “I am so sorry. How is he (she) doing?” is always appropriate.
2) Do not immediately launch into the story about somedog who suffered from the same condition, blew through his/her owner’s life savings, and then died, leaving the bereaved permanently heartbroken.
3) “What can I do to help?” (assuming you actually are willing to pitch in for a good friend). You could make a vet or pharmacy or kibble run, sit in a waiting room and hold a hand, make a casserole or a batch of cookies, canine or human. Listening is always in style. Be flexible in making plans if a dog, like Frankie, requires medication at specific times of day.
4) Don’t tell the human how awful little Fuzzy looks. Believe me, we already know.
5) If human wants to talk, listen. The grieving or newly medically aware person does not need the latest cherry juice or raisins soaked in vodka solution you heard on the Today show. He or she does need your support.
6) Do not send quack diets or New Age pap that blames the dog and or the human for the disease. Many will welcome links to good, encouraging research. But that depends on your friend. You may want to read up on your canine friend’s illness, too.
7) There are delightful and fun get- well and general -encouragement cards available at pet boutiques and superstores. If you are afraid of saying something stupid, buy a card , sign it, and send it to both of them.
8) Small gifts send good cheer. Think a toy if your pal’s pal is well enough to enjoy it (and most anydog can enjoy a fuzzy stuffed playmate) , flowers (non-funereal) or a flowering plant to cheer the human.
Great suggestions, Rebecca — who, I imagine, won’t mind being identified as Frankie’s rescuer and the person to whom I would have had to return the little guy (ha; like I would give him up)! And I hasten to add she’s put her suggestions into action, providing support in the form of snacks, toys, and (not mentioned as a solution but always welcome) booze (for me, not Frankie).
Another splendid line; Don’t worry. You can always get another pet.
Ah, yes. Those pets are pretty much interchangeable, dontcha know!